Monday, December 30, 2013

An Escape During the Hectic Holidays

What better way to avoid holiday crowds than head out to the coast?

That is what Jillian and I did recently, taking a trip out to Half Moon Bay and Pescadero. Usually I drive but ever since she got her new car she always wants to drive!   

By the time we arrived we were starving, and decided to head over to Pescadero to eat. We stopped by Arcangeli Grocery Co. and purchased some artichoke bread and a couple bowls of soup. We highly recommend this place if you are in the area. The bread is delicious and the artichoke soup is just the thing to warm you up on a cool day at the beach. Very nice location in a wonderful small town as well. It was just what we needed. We headed out to the beach and ate lunch on a picnic table at Pescadero State Beach.

After lunch, Jillian relaxed on the beach reading a book, Me Before You by Jojo Moyes. She seems to be enjoying it so far, but I will wait till she is done to make any real determination for her.

Jillian's choice for a nice spot to read.

Meanwhile, I took a walk along the beach with my camera as the clouds began to break up and the sun came out. The waves gently washed onto the soft sandy shore. Seagulls stood near the edge of the water, hoping for tasty tidbits to wash ashore. The air was crisp and clean, and quite a welcome change from that of the city.Though the sounds of the waves can be quite loud at times, there is a wonderful calm and peace that can be found while walking an empty beach.

Here are some of the shots from Pescadero State Beach.

The beach was virtually deserted which was awesome.

The waves turn an effervescent blue while they crash toward shore, creating a wonderful spectacle.

Seagulls following the edge of the surf, hoping for bits of food to wash ashore.

A mother expresses concern for her daughter who was playing below the cliffs as the tide began to come back in.

After a wave rushed back out to sea, the ground was left shimmering like a sheet of wet glass reflecting the shore and sky.

After Pescadero we headed over to the Half Moon Bay area, where the coastline has a different feel than Pescadero State Beach. The shore is much more rocky and rugged.
California Fur Seals are a common sight along the coast. This one was very interested in me, perhaps because of my camera, or perhaps because of my interest in him!

Large flocks of seagulls and cormorants took refuge on the rocks to avoid the pounding surf.

The tide started to come back in and with it came larger waves and rougher surf.
As it neared sunset, we decided to head back down toward Pigeon Point Lighthouse. We had never been there and decided to take a chance on seeing sunset from the grounds of the lighthouse. This payed off immensely. The views were spectacular, and the sunset was absolutely incredible. We even had the opportunity to see a pod of dolphins swimming by. No pictures though as I only had a 70-200mm lens with me.

Pigeon Point Lighthouse. It is the second tallest on the west coast at 115 feet and was built in 1872.

Tide rushing in during sunset at Pigeon Point Lighthouse.
Pigeon Point Lighthouse, with a beautiful dusk backdrop.
Another photographer kindly offered to take our picture after I took one for them.

I could not have asked for a better way to spend the day. The weather cooperated beautifully, presenting wonderful views and pleasant weather all day. The coast of California is a wonderful place to visit and experience a much needed get away. Especially during days when most people would not want to make the drive out. Empty beaches are so relaxing and gorgeous to behold.

What about you guys? Where do you go when you need a break from the daily grind? Are there places nearby that you can venture to? What are they and what makes them special?

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Long Distance Relationship Idea: Holiday Stockings

Long distance relationships are tough, and the holidays can make it especially more difficult. Mike and I have been in a long distance relationship for a year and four months now. Over the period of time that we are not physically together, we constantly try to come up with ideas that we can do for each other. The goal, as always, is to make one another a part of each other's lives as much as possible, despite the distance. 

This year, we decided to buy stockings for each other to keep for the holidays. I keep Mike's in California, and he takes mine to Washington state. From the first of December until Christmas day, we will try to fill these with random gifts and items. Then, we give it to each other either by mail (in time for Christmas) or in person (hopefully!) 

The goal is to find things that you know the other person would appreciate getting, or an item that reminded you of the other person when you saw it.
The stocking stuffers don't have to be pricey, and they don't have to be big gifts. At the end of the day, it really is just the thought that counts. Be creative, and have fun! 

Monday, December 2, 2013

Ten Favorite Things About the Holidays.

I have always loved the holidays! It's my favorite time of the year, and November-December is definitely my favorite months for so many reasons. Endlessly Beloved  asks a topic every month, and for this month, the topic is appropriate. Here's my (Jillian's) ten favorite things about the holidays!

1. Family time. 
I get to spend time with my parents and siblings all the time, but it's rare that I get to spend time with my relatives: aunts, uncles, cousins, nephews, nieces, and more. I love this time because I get to catch up with them, eat good food, drink a little, and just have fun. 

2. Break time! 
I work as an English teacher, and so I do get the regular school holidays. It's really nice to have days off, and just not to anything. 

3. The weather.
People think I'm a little weird that I like fall and winter weather. I adore it! Maybe because I live in Northern California, and it doesn't necessarily get very cold here, but there is something I love about cold, chilly days and nights. It's comforting, and is so cozy!

4. Decorating.
I love Christmas decorations! I particularly like it it's white, gold, and burgundy themed. Everything about decorating is just so festive. I also enjoy wrapping gifts! 

5. Christmas music. 
I particularly enjoy listening to She & Him christmas album; Zooey Deschanel's voice during the holidays is the best! Another favorite are the Carpenters Christmas songs, Michael Buble's My Grown Up Christmas List, Snow by Sleeping At Last, and Wintersong by Sarah Mclachlan. 

I LOVE winter clothing! I love scarves, beanies, boot socks, pea coats, boots, leggings, tights, long sleeved dresses... I'll wear them all! I also really adore the colors during this time of year. I love deep, dark colors like burgundy, olive green, bordeaux red, and even mustard yellow. I wish it was fall and winter all year long just so I can keep wearing these. 

7. The food and the drinks.
I am a huge fan of holiday themed anything: cookies, coffee drinks, teas... and so much more. Peppermint Mocha anything is a favorite, and good old hot chocolate will do the trick too. 

8. Traditions, Parties, and and Get togethers.
I have a lot of traditions with my family (we are Filipino), my friends (exchange gifts, white elephants, get together dinner), and with Mike. I love this time of year because I feel like there's a lot more free time, and we get to hang out a lot more. 

9. Giving gifts.
There's something about taking the time to make a list of people you plan to give something to for the holidays, and actually going out and getting them. In some cases, it's even better when you plan to make the gifts yourselves! I am fond of the idea of thinking of the special people in your life, and what you think they would love to get. It doesn't even matter what the price is, but just the thought that was put into it. 

10. The overall feeling. 
People seem to be nicer, and in a much more festive mood. People are a lot more generous, and kind too. Everything around seems a lot more peaceful and joyous, and I just love the atmosphere during the holidays! I also feel like I am able to reflect a lot about the past year, and the many things I'm grateful for, and the things I look forward to for the coming year. 

What's your top ten favorite things about the holidays?